Conservative economist pooh-poohs harbor deepening, tax vote

By Walter C. Jones
Morris News Service
ATLANTA – The conservative economist and columnist Walter Williams doesn't necessarily embrace two of Georgia business community's biggest goals, deepening the Savannah River and a sales tax for transportation.
Williams, long-time head of the economists department at George Mason University, said Monday that Savannah became a major port in colonial times without federal investment and so he thinks Washington should stay out of it now.
"It was a major trading port for the South. How in the world did it get there without the federal government?" he asked. "I always ask people when they say, 'We've just got to have something' what did we do before? Nobody really asks that question."
Williams regularly argues for lower taxes, and he wasn't impressed with having voters do the raising for the transportation sales tax rather than elected officials. He noted that the country's founding fathers warned against the masses using ballots to take what they want.
"You might be tapping into the public will more through a referendum than through legislation. I don't know that tapping into public will is a good thing," he said. "... Our founders had utter contempt for democracy. You don't find the term democracy anywhere in our founding documents because majority rule is just another form of tyranny."
The question is to weigh how else the money could be used to boost the economy, such as for healthcare or personal consumption, he said, adding that he wasn't prepared to provide an answer.
Williams, who frequently fills in for talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, answered questions while in town for a pair of speeches, including one sponsored by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. That organization is pushing a vote in July to raise a 1-percent sales tax to fund various transportation projects and a separate campaign to convince Washington to fund the bulk of deepening the shipping channel in the Savannah River. Chamber officials say both initiatives are needed to revive the state's economy.
Georgia's pace of job creation is at the level of 10 years ago, according to Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, another champion of both causes.
"We've been known as Hotlanta," said Sam Williams, no relation to the economist. "Our heat is dying out."


More Local

Coco's Cupboard

Partnership works to find service dogs for veterans

Dog trainers Suzanne Aaron and Tara Cotton saw many clients who had dogs they just couldn’t handle. They would help the owners find do ... Read More


250 students affected

Homelessness ‘vicious cycle that’s going to continue’

The economy has bounced back from the lows of a few years ago. The housing market is healthy, and the jobless rate has improved. But, for so ... Read More


Annual Sunrise on the Square Road Race a success

The annual Sunrise on the Square included ideal weather and a first-time winner who actually pushed his baby in a stroller. The race, hosted ... Read More


HealthSouth facility scheduled to open Dec. 2

Progress for HealthSouth’s new facility is on track for a Dec. 2 opening, which will add to the town’s growing collection of hea ... Read More


Subsidized medical center proposed for Senoia

Palmetto Health Council is applying for a grant to bring a subsidized medical clinic to Coweta, proposed for the Senoia area. The non-profit ... Read More

Economic Impact

Ports hit new record

The Georgia Ports Authority moved more than 3 million 20-foot equivalent container units in fiscal year 2014 – and set a new record fo ... Read More